Alesana have always been one of those love or hate bands. With varied criticism from one release to another, it’s about time the band produced a record that most critics can look at it for its good points instead of the bad. This record should hopefully do exactly that. The new album is divided into two acts; ‘Act One: The Gate’ and ‘Act Two: The Immortal Still’. With a fresh concept focused around The Inferno by Danta Alighieri, it’s time to see what Alesana can provide on their fourth full-length outting.
The concept begins to unfold with the introduction, ‘The Dark Wood Of Error’ which provides a slow, almost creepy way to begin the record. Despite some pretty piano work, it’s a rather stale song to open to. ‘The Forbidden Dance’ follows up where the previous track left off and gives us that spark to get the album underway. From this song alone we can see a clear change in direction for the band. Instead of a sloppy assembly of growly screams and high pitched vocals as previously seen on ‘The Emptiness’, with this record the focus primarily seems to focus around the clean vocals of Shawn Milke,giving the tracks a much smoother and more organised feel to them than before.
The album has some real shining moments. Songs like ‘The Fiend’ and ‘Hand In Hand With The Damned’ show some skillful and pleasant guitar work from Alex Torres, which works particularly well with their more melodic approach to the vocals. The album also has some more up-tempo hard hitters like ‘Beyond The Sacred Glass’ and ‘Welcome To The Vanity Faire’ which pick back up on their heavier styles seen in their previous album, ‘The Emptiness’. These songs also give Dennis Lee (unclean vocals) his moments in the spotlight by showing how his screams have improved since their previous record. However, they can still come across as a bit messy and screechy from time-to-time.
Despite all of its obvious good factors, the album can still come across as a bit too slow and somewhat boring for fans of Alesana for their typical post-hardcore style. Songs like ‘The Wanderer’ and ‘Vestige’ go far out their normal boundaries with a fresh sound you normally wouldn’t even associate with the band. It certainly showcases a newer approach to their sound which does show diversity in their sound, but I’m not quite sure it suits them as well as it should.
Alesana have come a long way since their first record ‘On Frail Wings…’ and have shown a fair amount of variation in styles and approaches to each record. However, they never really bring anything amazingly new to the table. Despite having a complete change in tempo, they’re still the same band they were during the writing of ‘The Emptiness’, but with some significant improvements here and there. Nevertheless, they have improved and brought with them a decent record that they should be proud of.
Written by Matthew Collins